The Law and You: When Can a Recognized Refugee be Expelled from his Country of Refuge?

Didas Gasana

By Didas Gasana

In 2004, our courts decided to expel 1,047 foreigners. In 2014, District court judgments ordered 644 expulsions. But what legally necessitates expulsion seems unclear to many. I thus offer some explanations.

When a court convicts a person for a particular crime, it may determine that the person is expelled from Sweden or any other EU Member state can. An expulsion may be temporal or for life time.

Only a non-Swedish citizen can be expelled. A Swedish citizen has a constitutional right to live in Sweden. This applies even if you have dual citizenship. Swedish law is a reflection of the European Union Law.

It is usually the prosecutor who asks the court to investigate the issue of expulsion for crime. The court must make a variety of considerations before deciding whether or not to expel a person.

When does the prosecutor request expulsion?

The prosecutor usually contemplates requesting expulsion in criminal investigations involving serious or repeated crimes that may lead to imprisonment and committed by a non-Swedish citizen.

A prerequisite condition for the court to decide on expulsion is that the punishment for the crime itself is a more severe punishment than a fine. In other words, a prison sentence usually attracts expulsion. Any criminal penalty severe than a fine warrants expulsion; in basic terms.

In addition, it is required that the court considers that there is a risk that the person in question will be guilty of continued criminality or that the offense committed by the person is so serious that the person should not remain in the country. At risk of recidivism, EU law allows states to expel you.

By the way, courts may rule that there is a risk of recidivism even though the person has not been convicted in the past either in Sweden or abroad. Such an example may be when a person stays illegally in Sweden.

In case of serious crime, the court does not need to establish that there is a risk of continued criminality. But there are stricter rules in some cases.

When a Court determines a question of expulsion, it is not only about the crime but also about the person who is about to be expelled. For example, there is a ban on expelling foreign citizens who have come to Sweden when they were children; that is before the age of 15.
There are also special rules that impose more stringent requirements on expulsion of, for example, EEA citizens and Nordic citizens who have spent some time in Sweden as well as for refugees.

A person with a refugee status within the meaning of the Geneva Convention, under EU law, can only be expelled in cases of severe crimes which pose a serious danger to public order and safety should the person stay. For example, a legal praxis from the Supreme Court, held in a judgment NJA 1991, p. 203 that attempted murder is such a particularly serious crime that could lead to expulsion. This is pursuant to utlänningslagen, chapter 4, para 10. Other crimes warranting expelling a refugee are treason, money laundering, homicide, etc.

However, should a refugee risk persecution in his or her country once expelled (This judgment is done by migration boards), then such an expulsion can’t be enforced.

Furthermore, a connection with a particular country, for example, how long the person has lived in a country and his or her living conditions such as work, housing and social adjustment, are of particular consideration when deciding on expulsion issues.